Politics, at least in the United States, seems to be an industry that’s based on emotional, irrational thinking. Often, the method of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) is employed to confuse those voters who think with their “stomachs” rather than their heads. Most Americans seem to have no problem with the trillions of dollars spent on attacking Iraq, but they are outraged by paying an extra dollar or two per gallon of gasoline. We live in a nation where hysteria over a manufactured threat – terrorism – has given government free reign to curtail liberties. We ask for no evidence related to the effectiveness of unbridled spending on war and “Homeland Security”.
Economics will be an important part of our next Presidential election. One of the main arguments against the Democratic party seems to be that it will raise taxes and increase spending. But is there any statistical information to backup that claim? R.W. Bradford argues just the opposite in The Politics of Presidential Spending. While the article is several years old, the information is still quite valid (and if you factor in Bush’s War and his administration’s bungling of just about all aspects of American government, it would help support the results). Here are some statistics and excerpts:
Most people believe that Democrats are big spenders and that Republicans are tight-fisted. The evidence leads to a very different conclusion.
Since 1970, spending has grown 64% faster when a Republican sits in the White House than when a Democrat does.
- In the twelve years that a Democrat has sat in the White House, spending has increased at an average rate of 1.29% per year; during the 22 years of Republican presidencies, government spending has risen at an average rate of 2.12%. In other words, spending has grown 64% faster when a Republican sits in the White House than when a Democrat does.
- During the 20 years Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress, spending has grown at an average rate of 1.84% per year, more than double the average rate of 0.89% per year during the six years the GOP ran Congress. (During the other eight years, when control of Congress was split between the two parties, spending grew at an average rate of 2.52%. The split-control years all occurred during Republican presidencies.)
- When Democrats controlled the White House plus both houses of Congress, spending grew at 1.70% per year, slightly below the average growth rate of 1.83% for the entire period.
- The slowest spending growth occurred when a Democrat sat in the White House and Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. Spending rose by an average of just 0.89% during the six years of this situation, which all occurred with Bill Clinton as president and Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House.
- During the 14 years Republicans controlled the White House and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, spending grew at an average annual rate of 1.92%. During the eight years with a Republican president and a split Congress, spending grew at 2.54% per year.
The results are quite clear – not only do Republican presidents spend far more money, but they often spend it on such “necessities” as creating wars. Sadly, the American people are extremely unlikely to let the use of any for of facts, figures, or statistics inform their decisions. So, it looks like the Republican Party can continue with it’s campaign of FUD, and people will listen.